I'll admit that I was a little late to the "New Adult" conversation that started to be all the buzz last year. After catching a few conversations via book blogger posts and Twitter conversations, about all I knew was that one group felt that teens should not be exposed to mature material nor a genre that seemed to be focused on adult content in a YA setting, versus those who felt that the "New Adult" stamp would merely steer sensitive readers away as well as give a voice to those "tween" ages that move from high school to college.
Since I was unfamiliar with it all, I decided to read Easy by Tammara Webber, since I had seen it mentioned quite a bit in these conversations. Let me just say that it really grabbed me from the get go and gave me a little more understanding of the subject of "New Adult." Let me share a bit about Easy, since the title definitely makes it sound a bit scandalous!
When Jacqueline follows
her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she
expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in
shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state
university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former
circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.
a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother.
Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right
time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night -
but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching
in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the
When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a
choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains
protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are
everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy."
Review: This is a definite tale of facing ones fears in the best way one can, through action. Jacqueline has a near rape experience one night after leaving a party. Thankfully she is rescued by stranger, but a stranger that ends up being in one of her college classes. Not only does she have to live with and face an unreported assault by a guy she knew, but now she also has to face the guy who witnessed it and saved her.
As you can gather, there is a lot of tension between Jacqueline and her hero. Yes, he saved her, but he also knows what happened and that she didn't report it. She is scared, but also finding her hero, Lucas, to be this person she grows to trust and fall in love with. There is an interesting boundary between fears and intimacy in this novel. Jacqueline is wounded and fearful of another attack, but building a relationship with Lucas that walks the line between pain and romance; he knows a lot about Jacqueline, but is in love with the girl and not the "damsel in distress."
Before I started to see the trend of I'm-in-pain-now-save-me/I'm-wounded-now-love-me that is so prevalent in New Adult stories, I got sucked right into Jacqueline's emotional turmoil. You could sense that her emotions were all mixed up with the original assault and potential repeat by the creeper, but mixed up with a new romantic relationship. How in the world was the girl to think straight? Besides, from all accounts, Lucas is the bad-boy emo type that you never knew you wanted to date. He is sexy, suave, and sensitive. How could she not fall for him and seek his protection?
Yes, as a New Adult story, there is some mature content that had me too squeamish to share it with my high school students. I can't say that it doesn't have a place for some students, as their life experiences are very different from some of their counterparts. It does seem that the New Adult label is at least a good warning to those not wishing to be exposed to more adult content. In Easy, the mature content was what might naturally occur between two college-aged students, so I think a more mature audience might also be in order.
Overall, I really liked Easy with its heightened emotions and mix of pain, fear, and love. It was a complex story, but one that was gripping and probably needs to be told. As a female reader, I found myself asking "what if" in the assault case. How would I respond? Who would I turn to? What would it force me to evaluate in my own life? Easy forces us to consider that "what if" and to stay open to the option of love. This was a gritty read that you have to be ready for, but as for pure story and characterization, I thought it succeeded.
*FTC Disclosure: This review was based on a personal copy of the novel.
I'm not trying to open a Pandora's Box here, but what are your thoughts on the New Adult trend?